The most ambitious architectural programme of its kind, the Serpentine’s annual Pavilion commission in London is one of the most anticipated announcements on the cultural calendar. This year it has been designed by Sou Fujimoto who has delivered a delicate, cloud-like lattice structure that is both ambitious in form and execution.
The Hamperling is the younger, contemporary, twice removed cousin of the traditional Fortnum & Mason hamper. According to Ewan Venters, Fortnum & Mason’s CEO it gives the brand “a chance to be more eccentric but retain the tea experience”. We agree, and we also think it will extend the audience, reach and relevance of the brand and offer.
Complete with food, drink, tablecloth, and cutlery, the Hamperling has been carefully designed to provide everything needed for a splendid picnic in the park, all in one simple ‘kit’. The modular nature of the design means it can accommodate simply drinks or ‘Lunch for one’ or a new take on the traditional afternoon ‘Tea for two.’
The Hamperling is Fortnum & Mason’s first step into the world beyond its Piccadilly store and is one of a series activities borne from our long-term role as strategic brand advisers. We couldn’t be happier to see it out in the world and can’t wait to try it for ourselves.
There’s no industry that more needs to change its game than financial services – and yet that seems so unlikely to do it. This is not because of the conservatism of banks, but because of the conservatism of consumers. In many ways, it’s a justified conservatism – ‘don’t mess around with my money’ – and yet things could be so much better for all of us. Cash machines and credit cards revolutionised money in the 1960s. Since then, we’ve had great but relatively small innovations, mostly from smaller players. In the mainstream, little has changed. But there are three signs of hope.
The revival of ethics
Why do we still so mistrust banks? In the UK, only one in ten people say they trust bankers to act in their best interests, according to Which?But one global bank is trying to do something about this: Barclays. Through its Transform programme, led by CEO Antony Jenkins, Barclays is shifting its culture towards making money ‘in the right way’. Employees who don’t accept values like integrity are told: ‘Barclays is not the place for you’. The change will take time, but it’s certainly in earnest. And around the world, Islamic banks, like Noor Islamic Bank, are becoming a mainstream alternative. They don’t charge conventional interest, they invest ethically, and they share profits and losses. Ernst & Young predicts that Islamic banking in the Middle East and North Africa will double in size between 2010 and 2015. Expect more banks to take ethics much more seriously: but who will do it best?
The transformation of payment
Why do we still carry a pile of coins, and a stack of plastic, around? Here’s where there has been change, with online payment systems like PayPal, contactless cards, person-to-person payment devices like Square, and mobile systems like M-PESA. Square, for instance, now processes $41 million in payments every day. And we’re on the brink now of cashless, cardless payment, as our phones and credit cards converge with innovations like Apple’s Passbook, Google’s Wallet and AmEx’s partnership with Isis Mobile Wallet. Expect rapid change in the next couple of years. One brand will probably emerge as the standard: which one?
The modernisation of advice
Why is there still no big, branded financial advice service? Financial advice is a huge industry, and the demand is growing – yet it has shown few signs of entering the modern world. When people don’t know which advisors they can really trust, alternative sources are doing well, often with a lot of peer-to-peer content. Moneysavingexpert.com in the UK reaches 13 million users a month. CaféMom is a successful forum on family financial issues targeted at mothers. SALT is a free membership programme from the non-profit American Student Assistance to help students manage their loans and take control of their money. These examples are promising, and expect much more. But which big brand will really grab the still-open opportunity for good, sensible, large-scale, mainstream financial advice?
Robert Jones is head of new thinking at Wolff Olins. Sami Mallis is a marketing associate at Wolff Olins London.
The group were asked to leave the Wilfred Wood because the written guidance stated one of the family members (aged just 16) had become ‘illegal’ after the stroke of 8 o’clock.
Whilst not the treasonable offence The Metro newspaper claimed it to be, it can’t have been a nice thing for anyone concerned. It highlights the perils of brands being both personal but also inflexible and the conflict of trying to assert control.
The relationship between brand and the individual is clearly evolving - from a model of corporations prescribing customer interactions – to customers acting as users and setting their own terms.
It’s a smart move to align your brand with users on a more human level, even to find a way to ‘co-brand’ with your public. But, in doing so, you have to accept the fact that we humans can be unpredictable, fickle and more than a little bit awkward. As the Wilfred Wood debacle proves; the public doesn’t always follow brand guidelines.
The personal touch can bring your brand closer to your audience. Politicians repeat people’s names like parrots with Tourette’s because it has been proved we all respond warmly to hearing our names during a conversation. Increasingly in the world of the 5 second advertisement and the 140 character conversation this shortcut to the emotional part of your cortex is an efficient strategy.
At least Coca Cola is trying to live in the customer’s world and play by our rules - bending their own brand guidelines. It could be better if the brand was even more generous, even more flexible, incorporating difficult or unusual names (currently there are only 150 real versions, so all the Moon Units and Zowies out there will have to be happy with just a digital can). The problems really come when organisations try to force their rules, structures and names on users.
More troubling was the fact the Metropolitan Police released information that they already had sponsorship deals with various organisations. Whilst the Met’s armed response unit is unlikely to be sporting Rentokill logos any time soon, brands co-opting and forcing their way into personal or sensitive areas of our lives is fraught with potential upset.
The most extreme manifestation of this is seen daily in the mass media where individuals (or even whole sequences of events) become hijacked by an inflexible brand. Last week I counted three individual logos fighting for space on a news report about a tragic murder.
This is impersonal dark age brand behaviour - stand out at all costs. A brand should never have to decide if the mono version of the logo should be used because it really pings out against fuzzy iPhone shot of a scene of ‘unimaginable terror’.
If you are going to be generous with your brand and play a part peoples lives, you must act like a real person – accepting both the fallibilities and boundaries of human beings. These are the things that make life fun, exciting, unpredictable and real.
If you are going to put someone else’s name alongside your brand you need to always be asking if you are being true to their brand values not yours. If not, step away.
Were the Wilfred Wood guidelines being true to their brand? I’m not sure but perhaps they should have asked themselves…
What would Wilfred have done?
Chris Moody is a creative director at Wolff Olins London.
The need to evolve has led universities to use digital technology to re-think how education is delivered. We’re seeing a gold rush of universities racing to digitise their campuses to offer free online courses to the world.
However, quantity doesn’t equal quality. Few universities are making the most of this new medium. Most mass online open courses (MOOCs) consist of a ‘talking head’ in a front of white board. It’s no wonder completion rates are less than 10%.
Yet online education has the potential to be so much more. Technology enables us to create learning that encourages:
Learning shouldn’t just be about listening and watching, but also, doing and making. Education resources, like Codeacademy, start by throwing people into the content headfirst. With Codeacademy, you can begin coding right away without evening signing in or watching an instructional video.
Learning doesn’t have to be a dull chore. Organisations like TED set the bar high for video talks. Along with the RSA Animates, they’ve elevated the lecture to an art. They create highly curated visual stories that move both the mind and the heart. They inspire us to fall into a rabbit hole, going from video to video, hyperlink to hyperlink.
Learning shouldn’t stop when you’re 18 or 22. Education startups, like FutureLearn, are re-inventing learning for life. They will offer free online courses from top universities whenever and wherever you like. For FutureLearn, the classroom can be a lecture hall, a mobile phone, a museum, an airport. They are building an experience that welcomes everyone to learn, regardless of age, location or background.
My ambition is to put these principles into practice – to use technology to make learning sing. This summer Robert Jones, Head of New Thinking and professor at the University of East Anglia, and I will be co-creating a course on branding for FutureLearn. Our challenge and opportunity will not just be using the medium, but making the most of it.
Melissa Andrada is a lead strategist passionate about the intersection between brand, technology and social impact. In her spare time, she teaches entrepreneurs and startups how to build better businesses at General Assembly.@themelissard
India is indeed a funny telecom market—saturated with 13 players, with each of them contemplating different strategies to claw market share. Along with a spew of scandals, license cancellations and price revisions, we’ve just witnessed the end an eight-year-long feud between the estranged Reliance brothers. They recently joined hands again under Reliance Jio, with the goal of providing 4G in India .
While pan-India coverage has yet to be achieved by any provider, and 3G subscribers number only 33 million, Reliance, Airtel and Videocon have already stepped on the 4G accelerator. On the other hand, Vodafone claims that it’s too early for India to go 4G. So is Reliance Jio doing the right thing? Let’s rummage through a few facts.
More people in India access the Internet through their phones than through a computer, which means that to most Indians, the availability of cheaper handsets is more significant than the service - be it 2G, 3G or 4G. Hardware is what will have a real impact for the mass market in India – which is evident from Micromax Mobile’s success so far.
Many in India would still prefer streaming a movie using Wi-Fi, calling at the lowest rates and using 2G/3G to access Facebook. 4G data packages will be priced higher, so operators will have to offer other incentives to attract customers. In this atmosphere, Reliance 4G will have to challenge Uninor’s cheap calling rates, Aircel’s cheap 3G data packages and also provide good coverage.
There’s yet another matter of concern—network compatibility. Since 4G can be deployed using different technologies, a device that’s termed 4G isn’t necessarily compatible with every provider’s network. For example, a Nokia Lumia or a Blackberry Z10 might not be compatible with the 4G network provided by Airtel or Reliance, while an expensive Samsung Galaxy S4 will be. This is why iPads in the US are bundled with AT&T, Verizon or Sprint; the device doesn’t work seamlessly across all networks.
Hence, our view is that Reliance Jio will need to carefully plan out their strategy before they rattle India’s telecom world. Reliance Communications has done this before by making mobile phone usage on CDMA networks democratic and affordable. And we’re convinced Reliance pull this off again, with a brand-led strategy. Here are four steps that also earlier applied to 2G and 3G, but have different implications in this context:
Make life easy
The trick will be to find a simple way to explain how Jio can help people and make life easier. They have got their first move right by attaining licenses in all circles – this might restrain the Indian consumer from switching SIMs while switching regions, who on an average possesses 2.2 SIMs.
Be honest and transparent
The Indian consumer might be still rallying under recovery mode from the wake of the 2G scandals and 3G stay orders. Reliance must lift levels of public interest and breed confidence in its brand.
Be clear and understandable
Perhaps the point is that it’s important to create brands that are down-to-earth and accessible in terms of tone, look and feel. Jio should be impeccable in communicating to the masses what it offers and on which devices it’s bound to work.
It is fair to assume that India’s expanding middle class is the primary target, which means that what they offer has got to be affordable. If it rolls out devices locked to its network, bundling with cheaper devices such as Micromax and Karbonn might be a good option, ensuring cheap voice calls at the same time.
Above all, has Jio got its timing right? Jio bringing the two estranged brothers back together was itself a surprising turn of events, and we are pretty sure it will lead to a lot more interesting things ahead. We’re certainly watching.
Zia Patel is Head of Strategy at Wolff Olins Dubai. Aditya Das, a management student at IIM Lucknow, also contributed to this piece.
Almost 20 years after William Gibson brought us the term cyberspace, the screen is no longer the only way we experience the virtual world.
The internet is becoming physical in ways that will have profound effects on all of our lives. Now, just as brands born in the physical world have grappled with what their digital experience should be, the new wave of brands, born in the age of the internet and software, are starting to imagine how their experience could also be physical.
Huge digital brands have made big moves into the physical world: Microsoft with Surface and Xbox, Amazon with Kindle, Google with Glass, Intel is about to begin its foray into TV with Intel Media, even Facebook has tried (and looks to be failing) with Home.
But in the new reality of the internet of things the screen is no longer the only way we interact with the virtual world. Product design conventions, body gestures, haptic feedback and other yet-to-be explored physical interactions are starting to become a major part of how we experience brands.
Digital brands might be well positioned on some of these, but for me it’s hardware brands who now have the more interesting opportunity to define and capitalise on these emergent types of interaction. So where are they?
Only Apple has so far managed to merge physical and virtual experiences at scale. But despite Apple’s financial success and apparent ubiquity in the West, the reality is it remains an exclusive, premium brand. iOS ships on just 17% of the world’s smartphones (down from 23% last year). Also the real power of the internet of things will lie in the totality of its connections. If, like Apple, you fence off your ecosystem, that’s going to prove pretty limiting.
In truth, it’s Samsung that dominates among the hardware manufacturers. Not content with making more smartphones, more feature phones and more TVs than any other company in the world, they are trying to become the biggest home appliance company in the world. Samsung is already physically present on more occasions across a greater number of categories and with more people than any other brand else.
The next step is for Samsung to create non-screen based brand experiences for interactions with the virtual world and make extra-sure that those experiences are coherent across its huge range of products and categories. The brand should also grow into more categories – wearable computing particularly – that will be at the centre of defining these new interactions.
This will join up the Samsung experience in people’s minds and make them more likely to consider Samsung across really disparate categories. It will put Samsung right at the forefront when people think about the internet of things, opening up huge opportunities for the Korean giant.
At Wolff Olins we love a good cause and the chance to hang out with interesting people who are trying to do some good in the world. Henry Dimbleby popped in yesterday to tell us about the work he’s doing to help improve school lunches in the UK. It was powerful and inspiring stuff. Henry co-founded the healthy fast food chain Leon with John Vincent back in the day. So he knows a thing or two about creating healthy, tasty food in a hurry. Together they’re helping lead a review into school lunches as part of the School Food Plan.
Did you know that current research suggests 25% of children will be clinically obese by the time they leave school? Potentially setting them up for a lifetime of poor health. At the same time the benefits of a healthy school produced lunch are self evident. Increased concentration, improved grades, better behaviour, more of a community spirit. The turnaround at Carshalton Boys Sports College is an amazing example of what can be achieved when you put food at the heart of a school…I’m still reeling from all the stats.
Henry and John have spent 50% of their time over the last year getting to know the topic of school dinners inside out, eating in schools and talking to everyone with an interest and point of view on the subject. They’ve clearly applied all the passion and smarts they have for their own business to this new initiative. The results are due out over the summer. I think it’s fantastic that they’ve managed to find a perfect way to contribute practically in an area they feel strongly about and can bring expertise to. And it feels like a great model for other businesses to learn something from. The more integrated doing business and doing good can become the better for all of us!
Sairah Ashmanis COO of Wolff Olins. Follow her on Twitter at @sairahashman
“He thinks he’s tough (his favorite movie is The Godfather)…but really, he’s not (Shawshank Redemption is a close second)…and he definitely has a sense of humor (Caddyshack rounds out the list of favorites).”
That quip - along with a few other gems- came from a talk with Bonobos’ VP of Marketing, Craig Elbert, during last week’s OpenCo event in NYC.
This retailer’s spot-on understanding and articulation of its audience is one reason Bonobos is a rising brand, one to watch and learn from over the next few years.
Here are a few others:
They’re online first and foremost
This may seem obvious now, but it’s amazing how few retailers actually treat the web as #1. For Bonobos, the original insight was realizing that many men don’t like the pressure-filled, often overwhelming experience of shopping in a brick and mortar store (it’s not laziness, it’s more like aversion).So they started all-in online, making sure to go well beyond the costs of entry.Things like Bonobos’ customer ‘Ninjas’ (all college graduates) and free shipping/returns help to alleviate the otherwise “high-friction” situation of ordering an expensive, fit-sensitive item online.
Sensing that some men do, in fact, want to feel certain items before ordering them (“There are two things people like to touch before buying: suits, and Tupperware”), Bonobos made an early small bet, turning the lobby of their NY headquarters into what they call a Guideshop.The thinking was: why not invite people in, let them have a beer, and give them a one-on-one consultant and a casual environment in which to try on clothes.The approach proved successful – both in terms of purchase metrics (Guideshop visitors place double the average order value, and come back to Bonobos faster for a second purchase) and in helping the company better understand their customers. Craig Elbert told us at OpenCo “before the Guideshops, we just knew the majority of our customers were guys…now we can actually have conversations and learn.” They’ve since opened 5 more experiential spaces (in addition to a much publicized partnership with Nordstrom).
They’re smart about sub-brands
Bonobos has already shown an eye for spotting new opportunities.After one employee realized there was nowhere for him to buy “Arnold Palmer inspired, bad-ass classics,” Maide was born.While clothiers like Nike and Callaway are making performance-focused items, Bonobos is bringing fitted style back to the greens.
If you’re not following these guys on twitter yet, be sure to check them out: @bonobos (for announcements, general brand talk) and @bonobosninjas (to see how they’re using twitter as a two-way conversation tool)
Sam Liebeskind is a strategist at Wolff Olins New York. Follow him at @samliebeskind